The Star Tribune initially refused to run an advertisement in its print edition that was critical of Gov. Tim Walz’s “severe reactions” to the coronavirus pandemic.
Kevin Roche, former general counsel of UnitedHealth Group in Minneapolis, sought to place a paid advertisement in the paper urging state leaders to “stop the economic suicide,” according to PowerLine.
“And what are the harms from the actions we are taking? Unlike the uncertainty around the exact toll of the coronavirus, we know for a certainty what the economic and health toll of the economic lockdown will be. Already, whole sectors of the economy have shut down, leading to the loss of tens of millions of jobs, homelessness, lack of food, lack of access to health care. We are talking about a recession far more severe than the great recession we endured in 2008 and 2009,” states the ad, which was published in full at PowerLine.
His advertisement encourages Minnesotans to contact Walz’s office about the “enormous job losses and financial ruin” caused by the state government’s response to the pandemic.
“So we should call on Governor Walz, our legislators and other political leaders, to consider that they are only delaying, that is right, not preventing, only delaying, the loss of a few lives, while promulgating measures that likely will lead to, indeed have already led to, enormous job losses and financial ruin, creating widespread anxiety and emotional distress,” the proposed advertisement states.
The Star Tribune, however, initially refused to run the advertisement and declined to provide Roche with specifics as to why the advertisement was rejected, according to an email exchange published at PowerLine.
A representative with The Star Tribune told Roche that the paper doesn’t “accept ads that attack, criticize, or cast negative reflections against any individual, organization, business, profession or other group of people.”
Roche was advised to submit an op-ed or a reader letter in place of the advertisement.
“I have had an astounding back and forth with the paper in regard to the ad they are refusing to place, but won’t give me any specifics on why. Since the paper has published many advocacy ads over the years, I was stunned by this refusal,” he commented. “I suspect someone just wants to suppress the viewpoint, which is purely along the lines of the need to balance the harms of the lockdown versus whatever damage might occur from the virus.”
Roche called it “a little frightening” that the only major paper in Minneapolis “should be able to decide arbitrarily what does and doesn’t get paid for to be an ad.”
Oddly, Roche was then informed Wednesday that the paper had accepted his ad, but he said he was “not sure why.”
Roche has been providing commentary on Minnesota’s response to the pandemic at his personal website and criticized Gov. Walz’s decision to issue a shelter-in-place order.
“Our governor has just succumbed to coronavirus panic syndrome and ordered a complete economic lockdown. He claims that if he doesn’t do this, up to 74,000 lives could be lost. That is absurd,” said Roche. “People are being panicked by completely unfounded ‘models’ claiming infection rates which simply can’t and won’t occur. Our governor said up to 50 percent of people could be infected. That is not supported by any available data.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Tim Walz” by Tim Walz. Background Photo “Star Tribune” by Tony Webster. CC BY 2.0.